Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bahrain: harshness and hostility against freedom to use the Internet Minister of Culture and Information violates freedom to exp

Cairo May 7th 2009

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) declares its being disturbed by the persistence of hostility shown by the Bahraini Minister of Culture and Information Mai Al-Khalifa against freedom to use the Internet in Bahrain. This hostility began just after her taking the office at the end of 2008 and became really obvious at her first decision issued in January 5th 2009 entitled "the resolution No. (1) for the year 2009 on organizing blocking websites", the decision's articles obligated all telecommunications companies and Internet service providers to block any Bahraini websites whenever there is a decision made by the ministry.

It seems that the work of the new minister is limited to browsing websites and taking decisions to block them, as the number of blocked sites since she began her work reached more than three hundreds, while the number was only 26 sites before she takes her new ministerial post.

The policies of the Bahraini Culture and Information Minister which reflect increasing hostility to freedom to use the Internet, were fully reflected in retreating her earlier promises to support the freedom of information and culture in Bahrain. The first broken promise was accepting to integrate the two Ministries of Culture and Information in one ministry after her strong opposition to this integration. Just after she became a minister, she began practicing her hobby in blocking the websites and blogs. She also gave all her department's employees the right to block any website, while lifting the blockage requires a ministerial decision.

"The insistence of the Bahraini King on appointing ministers hostile against freedom to expression will remain a major obstacle facing those who demand human rights. And when the ministry of Culture and Information that should protect and empower media and expression freedoms, become the first entity to violate these freedoms, then talking about freedom of expression in Bahrain is just empty words." ANHRI said.

The last blocked websites following decisions by the minister were;
Afaq electronic newspaper http://www.aafaq.org and Hwaa Elbahrain blog http://bahrain-eve.blogspot.com, which had been added to a long list of blocked websites such as;
Bahrain Center for Human Rights: http://www.bahrainrights.org
Voice of Bahrain Forums www.bahrainvoice.net
the to blogs: http://alsingace.blogspot.com/ and http://alsingace.katib.org
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information: http://anhri.net
The Bahrain forum http://www.bahrainonline.org
National Democratic Action Society www.aldemokrati.org



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